In 2012, toothpaste manufacturer Colgate named June Oral Health Month. By 2016, the company had earned a major partnership in promoting good oral health with the American Dental Association. Though not an official holiday, it still is a good time to learn more about taking care of your teeth and gums and the importance of oral health for the whole family.
At Matthews Family Dentistry, we want our patients to mark Oral Health Month with education and to continue their lessons throughout the year by maintaining good oral hygiene.
Oral Health Month promotes good hygiene for children and families. By selecting the first month of summer vacation, parents have more time with their kids to establish and maintain good dental habits. Though it originated as a promotional effort from a toothpaste company, the lessons of learning to care for your teeth properly are timeless and beyond the bounds of any corporation.
During June, parents can use the extra time to learn about good dental care for their kids and themselves. The American Dental Association offers activity sheets and coloring pages to help parents with this task. Teaching kids to brush and floss properly and maintain daily oral hygiene habits are good ways to start. By encouraging daily dental care from an early age, kids grow up with strong habits that promote strong, healthy teeth.
Taking care of your teeth and gums does more than keeping your breath fresh and your teeth white. Oral health can impact your entire body. Tooth decay can allow bacteria into the teeth, which can then spread to other parts of the body, such as the heart or lungs, leading to myocarditis or pneumonia, respectively. Additionally, periodontal (gum) disease has links to pregnancy complications and heart disease. Therefore, taking care of your oral health can protect the rest of your body from complications.
Oral health is also vital to preserving your natural smile. Without regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings, bacteria in the mouth can take hold. These bacteria feed on sugars in the mouth. Then, they produce eroding acid that can lead to decay that will eventually become a cavity. Without a dental filling to seal the tooth, the cavity can grow even more until the bacteria can get inside the tooth’s root canals. This type of problem requires root canal therapy to repair. Without such treatment, you could have a widespread infection that may cause you to lose the tooth and experience severe pain.
Society today even unconsciously supports good oral health by the preference for bright, straight smiles. Having straight, white teeth indicate good health overall. And to get such a smile, you need to take regular care of your whole mouth. Due to genetics or other reasons, some people may need some help to get such a smile through cosmetic dentistry. But a healthy smile reflects confidence and health to the world, so taking the time to achieve and maintain such a look is important.
The basics of oral health care are vital. These include the following:
While most people know about the basics, you may not realize that there is a right and wrong way to do these. First, when you brush, use soft bristles and light pressure. Brushing too hard can wear away tooth enamel. When you floss, make sure to get between all your teeth and even behind the back molars. Don’t skip flossing because it can also help to prevent gum disease. Rinsing with a fluoride rinse is not for everyone. Talk to your dentist to see if they recommend this step and what type of mouthwash to use.
Lastly, visiting your dentist twice a year for cleanings is not an optional step. Plus, you should not rely on these cleanings as your only method of keeping your teeth healthy. The dentist can tell during your visit if you regularly brush and floss. So, make sure to keep up with your daily oral health care routine between dental appointments.
While you should take steps every day to care for your oral health, there are some advanced methods that you may need to use, depending on your lifestyle. For instance, if you regularly play sports, you should always use a mouth guard to protect your teeth. A knocked-out tooth could become a permanent gap in your smile if you don’t get emergency dental care within an hour.
Stress in your life may cause you to clench or grind your teeth at night. Often, you don’t notice the problem yourself, but your partner may complain of hearing grinding. Or if you clench, you may do it without making a sound. At times, you could wake up with pain in your ears, jaw, neck, or head. A dental nightguard can prevent this nightly stress reaction from turning into cracked teeth or eroded tooth enamel.
Some people think of straight teeth as a cosmetic issue. However, if you have crowded teeth, brushing and flossing between them could be difficult, causing you to avoid it. Therefore, teeth straightening with Invisalign aligner trays or adult braces could help your overall oral health and appearance.
Lastly, you should know when to get dental treatment between regular visits. Putting off care for a dental problem will only make the issue worse.
Regular dental care is important, but so is prompt treatment of problems. If you have any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist today:
Getting care for dental problems is a key to maintaining good oral health for life.
Start Oral Health Month off right by scheduling a cleaning or exam if you haven’t had one in a while. Contact us at Matthews Family Dentistry to set up your visit or ask questions about insurance, payment, or our services. We can’t wait to help each of our patients to develop great oral hygiene habits and help them to get better oral healthcare through our preventative, restorative, and cosmetic dental services.